The soothing powers of music have long been known. Giving a new dimension to these musical notes to spread joy and happiness around is clinical music therapist Stuti Chandok. “I have been singing since the age of six and when I opened my school, ‘Madhur Mantra', five years back, I realised that music has a very positive effect on the personalities of people. I then went into deeper studies under the training of Margaret Lobo from the U.K. as to how this special talent can be used to help people of all age groups deal with the traumas of life,” says Chandok.
“Music has a direct impact on the emotional state of a person, that is why it is so effective,” she adds giving the example of a 19-year-old boy suffering from Down's Syndrome, who benefited greatly by music therapy. “He would either go completely into his shell or become very aggressive. I realised that there was no dignity and respect being shown to his existence by the people surrounding him, primarily due to their ignorance.”
So how did she help? “I began by playing something soft to him which he would just listen to from a corner. Slowly his interest grew, his body started shaking to the rhythm of the song and before long we were actually jamming together, without any words being exchanged between us.”
The passion and intense involvement is evident from her face which comes alive with the memory of the almost-magical experience. “The key is to respect and acknowledge a human being's feelings with an attitude of complete non-judgement.”
Madhur Mantra now offers a variety of options in terms of group or individual sessions for regular as well as children with special needs. “I try to make the musical experience very different for them by including puppetry, theatre, percussion and movement in my class. I also have classes like ‘drum circles' and ‘just sing' which work as an immediate stress buster for adults,” says Chandok.
So how does she know how to deal with so many people with diverse needs all the time? “I feel a lot of it is very instinctive. The only answer is to be completely in the present moment. If you are completely there, there is a strong connection which is built between the child and you,” says the lady who religiously maintains a report of each child with special needs to reflect on before sleep. “I find it sacrilegious when someone says they go down to a child's level. What do they mean by that? I treat all children, whether with special needs or not, as equals who deserve respect and space,” she says.
The depth of involvement between her and the children is visible, but how does she deal with the situation when it is time for them to move on? “I don't need to distance myself from them when they leave. It is like a family. I feel very proud when they achieve something and call to tell me. It is a great moment of satisfaction.” Clearly, the bond lives on.